Sunday, August 22, 2010

Le Canard Enchaine - Kingston

Long lasting friendship can often be a testament to finding a middle ground.  When friends live 2 hours from one another, finding a middle ground takes on an entirely new, literal meaning.  With my oldest girlfriends living in Orange County, and me here in Albany, we have many years experience meeting in the middle.  After exploring places like New Paltz, Woodstock and Rhinebeck, our rendezvous, like our friendship, continue to bring us to new places to reconnoiter.  Those French words were a clue as to where we most recently found ourselves....Le Canard Enchaine in Kingston.  

I must admit, I never made it to the Albany outpost of this restaurant and after our experience at the original location this week, I regret it.  Fortunately, I can be at the Kingston spot in less than an hour and, unlike the Albany location, this one is in a cool, walkable historic location.   I just can't warm up to that Quackenbush House locale, sorry. 
Revolution couple
Historic Landmark Church
Enticing sidewalk

Beautiful firehouse, but still not Hook & Ladder #4
Impressive, right?

We were a few minutes early for our reservation so we took a little walk around the block.  This area is really interesting with the original New York State Capital nearby and other places I'd like to spend more time poking around.  an aside:  is it just me or is Cappy Weiner one of the funniest names ever? I apologize for my juvenile sense of humor but, in my defense, I do live in a house filled with males.
(No offense to Cappy intended.  Please don't sue me)

Entering the restaurant was a bit like going into a cave - and not in a bad way.  A heavy curtain separates the entry from the bar area and seems to preserve a smell I typically associate with pubs, kind of smoky but in an inoffensive way.  We were greeted by the bartender and shown to a table in an adjoining room, not quite next to the window, but close enough to catch the evening's waning light as our dinner progressed.  The menu offered quite a few options including a 3-course meal, with a glass of house wine, for $30.  Wednesday was also Pasta Night and there was some sort of deal involving salad, pasta and a bottle of Chianti for the ridiculous price of $25 (per person?? for two??) was available and seemed to be a popular choice.

Of course, we girls did things our own way.  I started with a salad Lyonnaise (Boston lettuce, potatoes, bacon, hard boiled egg), which was delicious and substantial.  It was perfect for swapping back and forth with Virginia, who had ordered (fantastic) pate',  while Mary Lynn enjoyed her bowl of creamy mushroom soup (du jour).

For entrees we selected the mussels (Les Moules Marinières), the Beef Short Ribs and an evening's special, Shrimp Indochine.  The mussels were everything I want in a mussel - clean, tender and plentiful.  I loved that our server brought additional crusty bread without prompting because, in my world, soaking up the broth is a big part of mollusk eating joy.  A general note about the server - she was in the weeds and, once she sussed out our timing and realized we were there to visit and laugh and eat, she relaxed knowing that we required little attention.  Her sophistication about dining was definitely trumped by her sincere enthusiasm and respect for the food, which always works for me.  Virginia's short ribs were a generous portion, tender, and served with a wonderful Merlot reduction atop a mound of sweetened orange root vegetables (carrots? potatoes?).  The shrimp special was served skewered and served with a Thai influenced sauce - there was a little zip to the sauce and the shrimp were perfectly cooked.  No misses in our selections.

We shared a couple of desserts - an apple tatin and a slice of lemon pie.  The apples were gorgeous - brown with caramelization and tender without being mush.   The lemon pie, decorated with vertically placed squiggles (technical term - ha!) of chocolate, was the perfect dessert for a person who wants the refreshing qualities of citrus but also the indulgent sensation of chocolate.  Delicious. The food was really, really solid - defining French country fare beautifully and I am saddened anew that this place couldn't make a go of it in Albany.  And, I am eternally grateful that, despite miles of distance and years of life, my girlfriends and I continue to make our friendship work. 


  1. I wish I knew you were dining at Le Canard Enchaine. I work across the street and would have met you (and could have been part of that wonderful new profile picture). The building I work in one of your pictures - 2 down from the fireman's museum. I, also, have been entertained by the name Cappy Weiner.

  2. Now, James, you know Aloysius already has filled the opening for girl's guy, but, believe me, if there is an opening, you're on the top of the list. Seriously - it would have been great to see you and we will definitely bring you in (for a drink) on our next trip.